Fruits are an excellent part of any well-balanced diet, but we may be throwing away the most valuable part! The peel, especially that of the orange, is filled with nutrients and compounds that can be used in numerous ways, from boosting your immune system to cleaning your home.
Many of us already know that the vitamin C in oranges makes them great immunity boosters. Feeling a cold come on? Grab an orange! But what most of us don’t realize is that we’re often tossing out the most nutritious part of the fruit – the peel!
The Cover Story
Most fruits have a protective covering, either a hard rind or tough peel. This exterior contains a wealth of vital nutrients and other wellness-promoting compounds, including dietary fiber. The fruit of the orange, aka Citrus genus, is typically consumed raw or used to make a variety of foods like jams and cakes. But its peel, and the oil from that peel, can be used in multiple ways. Researchers are discovering numerous uses for the peel as both a disease fighter and an effective ingredient in cosmetics, medicines, air fresheners, whiteners, cleaning agents, and even compost.
The Protective Peel
Hold on to that orange peel – it’s just as (or maybe even more) precious as the juicy fruit it holds. Across multiple studies, the orange peel has proven to provide immense health benefits. The peel is especially rich in flavonoids – organic compounds found in plants and categorized as plant secondary metabolites – which have shown to be useful in anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory treatments.1
Derived from the peel, citrus oils contain anti-microbial properties that are effective against bacteria. In both oil and vapor form, they can also be used as a safe, natural food additive.2
Many Uses For The Rich Peel
Fighting The Big C
Perhaps some of the most fascinating studies have looked into the citrus peel’s anticancer properties. Researchers have found that the polymethoxyflavones (PMFs), a type of flavonoid found in peels, act as a protective agent in fighting off cancer cells. PMFs seem to prevent carcinogenesis by blocking the metastasis cascade (spreading to other organs) and reducing the ability of cancer cells to move through the circulatory system.3
Your Diet’s Best Friend
Orange peels are high in dietary fiber, but who wants to bite right into that thick and bitter peel? Fortunately, you can consume the orange peel in powder form as a way to add more fiber to your diet. The peel consists of about 61–69% fiber, with a significant portion of that being soluble fiber (19–22%) – a great digestive aid.4
Keeping Inflammation Away
Chronic inflammation is a major cause of various degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer. Again, the flavonoids in the orange peels are the true stars here. They can easily permeate through membranes. This is called “bioavailability” and it’s inspired researchers to study the potential use of flavonoids in the prevention and treatment of various diseases. One notable thing they’ve found is that these flavonoids in the orange peel can act as an anti-inflammatory drug.5
Several studies have also proven that orange peel oils can be effective in fighting fungal infections. One study found that the vapors show greater effectiveness, while the oil produces faster results.6
Always Save The Peel!
Would you believe there are even more handy ways to use the orange peel? You don’t need to be a doctor or scientist to reap its benefits. With its rich supply of vitamin C, orange peels and their oils can also be used as teeth whiteners, face masks, cleaning and composting agents, air fresheners, and natural insect repellants. So, after enjoying the delicious, juicy orange to nourish your body, use the peel to freshen up your skin, your teeth, and your home!
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Ortuño, A., A. Báidez, P. Gómez, M. C. Arcas, I. Porras, A. García-Lidón, and J. A. Del Rio. “Citrus paradisi and Citrus sinensis flavonoids: Their influence in the defence mechanism against Penicillium digitatum.” Food Chemistry 98, no. 2 (2006): 351-358.|
|2.||↑||Fisher, Katie, and Carol Phillips. “Potential antimicrobial uses of essential oils in food: is citrus the answer?.” Trends in food science & technology 19, no. 3 (2008): 156-164.|
|3.||↑||Wang, Liwen, Jinhan Wang, Lianying Fang, Zuliang Zheng, Dexian Zhi, Suying Wang, Shiming Li, Chi-Tang Ho, and Hui Zhao. “Anticancer activities of citrus peel polymethoxyflavones related to angiogenesis and others.” BioMed research international 2014 (2014).|
|4.||↑||Larrauri, JoséA, Pilar Rupérez, Laura Bravo, and Fulgencio Saura-Calixto. “High dietary fibre powders from orange and lime peels: associated polyphenols and antioxidant capacity.” Food Research International 29, no. 8 (1996): 757-762.|
|5.||↑||Gosslau, Alexander, Kuang Yu Chen, Chi-Tang Ho, and Shiming Li. “Anti-inflammatory effects of characterized orange peel extracts enriched with bioactive polymethoxyflavones.” Food Science and Human Wellness 3, no. 1 (2014): 26-35.|
|6.||↑||Velázquez-Nuñez, Maria José, Raúl Avila-Sosa, Enrique Palou, and Aurelio López-Malo. “Antifungal activity of orange (Citrus sinensis var. Valencia) peel essential oil applied by direct addition or vapor contact.” Food Control 31, no. 1 (2013): 1-4.|